In a 357-22 vote on Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass the NATO Support Act, which expressed Congressional support for the alliance and forbids any funding for any move by the US to withdraw from NATO.
One of the first bills pushed through the new Democratic-majority House, the vote saw every single voting Democrat, 208 of them, voting in favor. Only 22 Republicans voted against the bill. 54 representatives didn’t vote at all.
That reflects the scramble to get this vote quickly into the books and passed. Indeed, the bill went so fast from introduction to passage that the text of the bill was not even available on the Congressional website yet.
The bill is intended as a companion to a bipartisan Senate version which would forbid any effort by the president to withdraw from NATO without Senate approval. It does not appear the House version provides a mechanism for approval, however, instead just making staying in NATO an absolute requirement.
Decades after the end of the Cold War, the need for NATO is increasingly questioned in some circles, though among political leadership in both parties, there is little appetite to question such a long-standing alliance.
Reports from last week that President Trump had, before last year’s July NATO summit suggested withdrawing from NATO, seems to be driving these bills. Many lawmakers are eager to present any anti-NATO stance by Trump, however tentative it may be, as reflective of some Russia-driven agenda, and that makes them all the more eager to codify the current status quo as an immutable part of US law.
While seen by many lawmakers as a great way to spite the president, the commitment to NATO could ultimately prevent some key debates on the future of the alliance, and more importantly on whether the US should commit itself to potentially calamitous wars on behalf of every tiny state the alliance has recently absorbed.
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